While it was great to see football, specifically Carolina Panthers football back on TV last week, the game probably isn't all that we hoped for. Granted the first team unit, which was only out for one series in its entirety, looked good, the depth for the offense didn't inspire much confidence. Bad and untimely penalties, turnovers, and a general lack of cohesion seemed to plague the 2nd and 3rd team offense, as only one TD could be mustered on offense.
Again, it wasn't all bad, but there is definitely room for improvement. The offensive line in particular needs to show something this week, as they could not open running lanes for the RBs or protect QB's Derek Anderson and Joe Webb for very long. They will get the chance to show if they have made any improvements when they battle the Tennessee Titans in a rare Saturday afternoon matchup.
Panthers Passing Offense
It was great to see QB Cam Newton and the first team passing offense seem to pick up right where they left off last season. Newton looked poised and collected in the minor amount of time he saw the field. Apart from an errant pass that WR Ted Ginn may or may not have been able to get in the back of the endzone, everything seemed to click. While it was only one catch, it was very good to see Kelvin Benjamin go up and snag a high pass over a defender; can't wait to see more of that moving forward. Seeing the first unit play so well helped balance out the poor play from the 2nd and 3rd units. From the offensive line to poor throws, it was not a good showing, especially for T Daryl Williams. Williams, who is fighting for a roster spot, immediately allowed a defender to blow past him on his first play at LT, causing a sack fumble to occur on backup QB Derek Anderson. It was the start of a rather lackluster showing overall. The penalties didn't help either, with one taking away a potential TD that in the end would have made the difference.
This week, we need to see more consistency behind the first unit. You can't expect them to be world beaters, but the mental errors and poor overall play needs to reverse some this weekend. These are the depth guys who come in for emergency situations, so they need to be counted upon to get the job done. So far, at least for the OL, I'd say we are all hoping and praying nothing goes wrong with that position this season. For tomorrow's game against the Titans, I'll settle for the backup OL giving Anderson/Webb a second or so more of protection.
Panthers Rushing Offense
Again, outside of the first unit, there wasn't much of a ground attack to speak of. I must say it was fun seeing the end around on the first play of the game. It is a bread and butter staple for the offense that never seems to lose its edge. Now, we all know that in real-game action, the rushing attack will work itself out with Newton, Jonathan Stewart, and Mike Tolbert. Still, to see the backup running backs ram into a wall play in and out last week was not fun to watch. I was hoping to get more of an idea of who the supporting cast would be at RB, but it seemed that Fozzy Whittaker, Cameron Artis-Payne, and Brandon Wegher didn't have much room to run. When they did, they either didn't get very far or tragically slipped on the field (looking at you Wegher).
It is tough to make something out of nothing though, and I have a hard time laying the blame solely at the feet of the RBs. The OL has to do, not even a better job really, just their job, which is opening up running room for the backs. It would be wonderful to see that against the Titans this week. At least give us some way of determining with some evidence who should escape the logjam that is currently the backup RB position.
Players to Watch: The 2nd and 3rd Team OL
I've mentioned them several times now, and I'll do it again. This is truly the linchpin of the offense. If we can't rely on the depth to handle teams in the preseason, I shudder to think what might happen if we have to call on them in the regular season. Hey, at least we don't have to see Byron Bell again... oh wait...
This is after all, only the second preseason game, which means we get to see the starters play a little longer. Personally, I hope guys like Brenton Bersin, Stephen Hill, Damiere Byrd, and others get more chances out there, because that is another logjam we need to sort out. It should be fun to watch, and hopefully we will leave this game with more answers than questions for the offense.